21 Apr

How Much Will SB1 Really Cost Us?

Costs of SB1

I can’t seem to escape the world of SB1 and the new taxes being thrown at drivers for the sake of fixing our broken infrastructure. I’ve read countless pieces on this issue and wasn’t able to really find a breakdown on how much it was going to really cost each driver. The (D)s that voted for it say $7-10/month. The (R)s that voted against it say more. Where’s the truth?

Look no further because I decided to figure it out for myself.

Thinking it over I decided to go as conservative as possible and ignore Governor Brown’s $5.2Billion water-mark. Government projections are almost always lies and you can pretty safely assume that if something is said to cost you “X” it will really cost you “X” plus an arm and a leg. Not to mention dealers fees and CRV.

I warn you that this gets ugly and stupid really quickly so strap in folks. Be warned also that my numbers make little logical sense owing to how conservative I’m setting the baselines. I’m using some of the lowest and yet still sourced numbers I can use without just taking Governor Brown at his word.

To start let us being with the population in my hometown of Fullerton. I’m choosing Fullerton because I live here and it’s a fairly good size town. Now according to the Census Bureau there are 140,847 people who reside in Fullerton. For the sake of our little experiment we’re only going to focus on those who work and drive to/from work because I can find numbers to support that premise.

According to the Southern California Association of Governments’ (SCAG) there are 48,277 Commuters within Fullerton’s population. That number seems low to me but going back to the census we can see that 23.3% is under 18 (-32,817), 11.7% is over 65 (16,479) & 16.8% (23,662) lives in poverty. Depending on how you massage those numbers you can get close to 48K so we’ll just use SCAG’s numbers considering they are paid for by the government. And we know to trust our government right boys and girls?

Back to the 48,277 commuters. Let us look at where they go to work because that dictates how much fuel they will consume and therefore how much they’ll pay in extra fuel excise taxes. Remember that SB1 increases fuel excise taxes by $0.12/gallon.

If you just map out place to place in Google you get the distances I’ve added in red (city to city with no specific destinations). I’ve left Fullerton at 0 to pretend that nobody drives a whole mile to/from work. If we exclude Fullerton and Los Angeles as the outliers we get an average commute of 9.25 miles. If we just exclude the commuters that work within the city of Fullerton (my 0) we end up with 10 miles of commute. 9.25 v 10? We’ll use an average of 10miles for the “All Other Destinations”.

Here comes some very basic math. Using the above chart we’re going to take commuters * miles commuting:

  • Fullerton = 0
  • Anaheim = 10,656
  • Los Angeles = 108,862
  • Santa Ana = 31,932
  • Irvine = 39,900
  • Brea = 5,841
  • Orange = 19,270
  • Garden Grove = 10,704
  • Santa Fe Springs = 11,466
  • All Other = 206,740

That gives us a total one-way average of miles commuted by Fullertonians as 445,371 one-way or 890,742 for their daily round trip. This works out to 213,778,080 round-trip miles driven yearly by Fullerton commuters.

To figure out how much gas our commuters are using we’re going to look at Federal EPA Standards. Current CAFE Standards dictate that 2016 vehicles must get an average of 34MPG. That jumps to 40MPG as of 2019 and keeps on going up until they kill off the internal combustion engine. We’re going to use 2018 as our baseline calendar year and for the sake of generosity assume that everybody will buy a 2019 Model Year vehicle with an EPA CAFE Fuel Economy Standard of 40MPG.

Now that everybody has their brand new car that they found under a chair on Oprah (that we won’t even make them pay the imaginary taxes on) we can move to fuel consumption.

More Math. 890,742 miles commuting / 40MPG = 22,269 gallons of fuel consumed by Fullertonians daily.

How much in added taxation is that going to cost our commuters? Remember SB1, the Vehicle Tax passed by Democrats and signed by Governor Brown, raised the excise tax on each of those gallons by $0.12.

Yet More Math. 22,269 Gallons of Fuel * $0.12 = $2,672.28 in daily Added Taxes collected from Fullerton Commuters.

But how often do they go to work I hear you wondering. If we grant everybody 2 weeks of paid vacation and two weeks of paid sick time / paid holidays that would leave us with 48 weeks worked each year.

Still More Math. $2,672.28 x 5 days in a week ($13,361.40) x 48 weeks in a year = $641,347.20 in added fuel taxes just for Fullerton commuters to get to and from work. That works out to about $1.11/Month per commuter. Not to bad I suppose.

But Wait! There’s More. Considering almost nobody drives to just work and back we need more data.

According to the Federal Highway Administration the average driver aged 20-64 (our control group here) drives an average 14,120 miles per year.

We’re going to take this into the absurd and for this we’re going to assume that ONLY our 48,277 commuters drive.

Math Again. 48,277 Commuters * 14,120 Miles Driven = 681,671,240 miles driven yearly.

Groceries. Errands. Tinder Dates. Whatever. Fullertonian Commuters average 681,671,240 miles a year. We’ll use that same unrealistic notion that every single person is driving a 2019 model year car with a 40MPG rating again for this computation.

Stupid Math. 681,671,240 / 40MPG = 17,041,781 gallons of gas * $0.12 SB1 Tax = $2,045,013.72 in new yearly taxes.

Okay, so now we’re up to $3.76/Month per commuter.

According to the OC Register by way of OCTA by way of CTA we in the city of Fullerton should be getting $3,260,000 in additional funding from SB1. Our Commuters pay $2.04Mil and we get $3.26Mil back for Mah Roads? Sweet. That’s a net gain of $1.22Mil. All for the low, low price of about $4/Month per Commuter. Okay…

Oh wait. I forgot about the increase in the Vehicle Registration Fee. While it is true that there are homes with only one vehicle I have been to too many city council meetings and heard too many complaints on parking to be crazy nice on that issue. I’ll still be unrealistic though. I’m going to assume that each of our 48,277 commuters has their own car for this point. Our Municipal Code Parking Requirements (Pre-ADU Guidelines) dictates that we have WAY more cars than this but we’re sticking to 48,277. Please keep in mind that this whole time I’ve been assuming that out of our 140,847 people the only people that drive are the commuters mentioned by SCAG. That means I’m assuming that not a single additional person drives. AT ALL.

We’ve now assumed a grand total of 48,277 cars in Fullerton. Let us pretend for the sake of ridiculousness that each of these brand new 2019 Model Year vehicles which get an average of 40MPG are going to have their Vehicle Registration Fee go up by the near minimum of $50.00 (that’s the increase for vehicles valued between $5,000-$24,999). This is about as low-ball as this number can get folks unless we assume everybody drives a beater worth less than $5K. The law of averages says I’m safe here.

Stoopid Math. 48,277 vehicles * $50.00 = $2,413,850.00.

That takes us up to a grand total in new SB1 related taxes to… drum roll please…

$4,458,468.72.

Breakdown Math. $4,458,468.72 / 12 Months = $371,539.06 Monthly / 48,277 Commuters = $7.70/each.

The (D)s say $7-10/month each. This shows just over $7/each per commuter using stupid math. So that goes to show that they are certainly low-balling the numbers hoping they go down easily which isn’t really a surprise.

But what about the practical costs?

Remember that Fullerton should be getting $3,260,000 in additional funding from SB1 according to CACities and the California Transportation Authority.

$4,458,468.72 is the bare bones minimum added taxes levied upon our Fullerton Commuters. Using numbers that aren’t even within the realm of reality and assuming things that obviously cannot be assumed we still come out losing $1,198,863.72 for the promise of fixing roads that should have been fixed years ago.

Let me repeat that for clarity.

Our Fullerton Commuters will pay $1,198,863.72 MORE in taxes than the city will receive in State Transportation Funding thanks to SB1. Transportation funding that Fullerton City Staff said is higher than they expect at the 25 April 2017 Fullerton City Council Budget Meeting.

To check reality for a moment I’ll point out the following;

  • There are more than 48,277 drivers in Fullerton.
  • There are certainly more than 48,277 vehicles in Fullerton.
  • The real average mileage for a vehicle is closer to 26MPG and not 40MPG as I quoted.
  • Any Cars worth more than $24,999 will pay more than $50 in new registration fees.

Even if we don’t add a single driver or vehicle to this equation and simply lower the MPG to the more realistic 26MPG the NEW SB1 Tax to Fullerton Commuters increases to $5,560,024.95. While it is true that this comes closer to the high end of that $7-10/Month estimate (at $9.60/Month per Commuter) it is still unrealistic. If we allow for a 10% increase in vehicles over my 1/commuter ratio and use the realistic 26MPG rating we’re already at over $12/Month per commuter. It only gets worse as you add vehicles and drivers driving at the national average.

$5,560,024.95 to get at most $3,260,000 back for a Net Loss of $2,300,024.95.

We here in Fullerton are being told we’re getting $3,260,000 (or less depending on the source) each year for 10 years. Each year when that tax, which is tied to inflation, goes up so does the Net Loss to all drivers. When that numbers jumps to $0.18 next year it’ll equate a Net Loss of $3,873,112.43. Once it hits $0.20 we’ll be pushing a Net Loss of over $4.3Million.

Keep numbers like these in mind the next time somebody tells you this was a good deal for California. If they tell you it’s needed feel free to point them to my post outlining the amount of money that’s been collected and wasted over the past 10 years. When they can explain why nobody has been held to account for this disgrace then let them continue on about taxing you more.

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